Q: What inspired you to get into the ice pop business?
A: My wife and I wanted to start a business together, and we wanted it to be something we both really were passionate about. It turned out to be dessert. Also, we needed to start with something small that we could manage entirely ourselves, both financially and practically. So we started making ice pops in a shared commercial kitchen space and hauling our ice pop cart to markets on the weekends. It grew from there.
Q: Whatever Pops has permanent locations in Seminole Heights and Sparkman Wharf, has a presence at Armature Works, and seems to pop up at events all over town. Why do you think your product has seemed to resonate with the community?
A: We are absolutely a local mom and “pop” business, and we try to stay in touch with our community. We think of Tampa as a place that likes to try new things but not just for the sake of being new. So we’ll try some new or different things with our flavors, but we know that sometimes you just want something tasty and reliable. We always have strawberry mango pops!
Q: What is the development process like for your new pop and gelato flavors?
A: It involves a lot of taste testing. We tested over 100 pounds of chocolate to get the right combination for our chocolate sea salt pop. It’s a rough job!
Q: What appealed to you about joining the vendor lineup at Sparkman Wharf?
A: We feel tremendously lucky to be part of the Sparkman Wharf project. It’s a fantastic group of chefs and entrepreneurs. Also, oddly enough, we’ve been toying with the idea of opening a store in a shipping container for several years. It’s a reminder of our food truck roots.
Q: If you could make any flavor pop — regardless of how the flavors would actually taste together — to represent Tampa, what ingredients would you include?
Hmm, Tampa’s got a lot of flavors. Maybe some strong regular coffee, swirled with house-made almond milk, local honey and a toss of salt, and another swirl of strawberry with lime zest. Oh, and something gritty. Beach sand?
Q: You live and work downtown. Where is your favorite place for dinner downtown, and what are you ordering?
A: Downtown’s a pretty exciting place to be these days, and there are lots of new choices. But when we’re keeping it simple after a long day of work, we tend to order a pepperoni pizza from Tampa Pizza Company.
Q: I would imagine you’re an expert on sweets. Where do you go in Tampa for a great dessert?
A: So here’s my secret dessert weakness when I’m not having pops or gelato from Whatever Pops. Foundation Coffee gets cinnamon rolls delivered from Cassis Bakery in St. Pete. Have one heated with coffee.
Q: When you have guests visit from out of town, where do you take them around the Tampa Bay area?
A: We took our most recent guests water biking from [the Tampa Bay Water Bike Company at] the Sail Pavilion. You can’t tip those things over!
Q: What’s your favorite Tampa hidden gem and why?
A: I really like the bike trail over the Courtney Campbell Causeway. It’s along the water and there’s a hill!